Alaska Education Commissioner Leaving Position After 6 Years
Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN
June 12, 2022
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy last week expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation to Education Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson, who announced on June 08 that he is departing from his role as Commissioner of Education. Commissioner Johnson publicly announced his departure during the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development quarterly meeting this afternoon. His official last day is June 30, 2022.
“From the moment he stepped into a classroom, Commissioner Johnson has been a true asset to Alaska’s public education system. His accomplished background in a rural Alaska school district gave him a unique perspective to be a successful and thoughtful leader,” said Governor Dunleavy.
Dunleavy said, “Michael has been a friend to many and I have valued his insight and commitment to our future generations. I wish him well in his future endeavors and thank him for his many years of dedication to Alaska’s students, educators, and administrators. It is only fitting that we cap off Michael’s years of service to the state with the historic passage of the Alaska Reads Act which earned bipartisan support and will greatly improve the trajectory for Alaska’s students – a feat that could not have been achieved without him.”
Johnson began his service as Commissioner of Education on July 1, 2016. He previously served in the Copper River School District as superintendent, school principal, district curriculum and staff development director, elementary teacher, and special education program assistant. During his tenure as its principal, Glennallen Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Commissioner Johnson also is a recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award.
Johnson is the longest-tenured member of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s cabinet, having been appointed by former Gov. Bill Walker and retained by Dunleavy. He also is third in the state’s line of succession, behind Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer according to the Alaska Beacon. Meyer previously announced he will not be running for reelection. The Alaska Beacon reported that Shannon Mason, deputy press secretary for the governor, said she expects the governor to name a new lieutenant-governor successor by the end of the week.
Under state law, the board appoints a commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, with that person subject to approval by the governor. Johnson began serving as commissioner under the prior administration of Gov. Bill Walker.
“It has been an honor to work with Governor Dunleavy and the State Board to improve student outcomes in Alaska. He has always made time to support the work necessary to support Alaska’s students,” said Commissioner Johnson.
Johnson said, “There are far too many friends, colleagues, and fellow Alaskans to thank individually. I’ll look back on my time as Commissioner with enormous gratitude. I will continue to support Governor Dunleavy and an effective public education system in Alaska.”
Commissioner Johnson holds certification in Alaska as a teacher and administrator. He holds a BA and a MA in teaching degree in elementary education from Columbia International University, and a doctorate of philosophy in education and intercultural studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) Executive Director Dr. Lisa Parady said, “It has been an honor working closely with Commissioner Johnson over the last eight years in his roles as superintendent and commissioner.”
Parady added, “As ACSA and ASA president, Dr. Johnson was committed to Alaska’s students and educators, and his dedication continued through his work at DEED. We sincerely appreciate his leadership and service and wish him, and his family continued success in his new position.”
She also thanked him for being a champion for children and public education.
Brendan Wilson President of the AACSA/AASSP (Alaska Council of School Administrators and Alaska Association of Secondary School Prinicipals) shared his gratitude for Commissioner Johnson’s service.
Wilson said, “ACSA appreciates the commissioner’s many years of service to the state. We’ve valued his excellent partnership and willingness to share time collaborating with educators to meet the needs of Alaska’s students.”
On behalf of Alaska’s Superintendents, Dr. Bobby Bolen, President of ASA (Alaska Superintendents Association) said, “I want to thank Commissioner Johnson for all his efforts in leading change and educating every student, every day. His leadership and service to the State of Alaska will not be forgotten. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Jennifer Rinaldi President of the AAESP (Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals) shared words of thanks for the Commissioner saying, “On Behalf of AAESP, we would like to thank you for your incredible support of Alaskan educators, their families, and students over the last several years. You have provided consistent guidance and steadfast leadership through difficult and challenging times, and we are grateful.” She added, “We thank you for being our partner and friend in education and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.”
Andy Ratliff President of ALASBO (Alaska Association of School Business Officials) said, “On behalf of ALASBO, I’d like to thank Commissioner Johnson for his tireless work to improve educational opportunities for all of Alaska’s children. We wish him well in his future endeavors. He will certainly be missed.”
Johnson is going out on a high note as the Alaska Legislature passed a major education reform bill on the last day of the legislative session, and Gover Dunleavy has said that he will sign it. The bill will fund pre-kindergarten programs, enacts tough and required standards for students to read by third grade, and calls for additional funding for low-performing school districts.
The Alaska Legislature also approved a bill that would allow the state to work with Native tribes to set up tribally operated schools. The governor has yet to comment on if he will sign that bill.
Source of News:
Office of Gov. Michael Dunleavy
Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA)
ASA (Alaska Superintendents Association)
AACSA/AASSP (Alaska Council of School Administrators and Alaska Association of Secondary School Prinicipals)
AAESP (Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals)
ALASBO (Alaska Association of School Business Officials
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